Helpful Information For Nannies & Families in New York City

What’s New York Like For Nannies And Kids?

Manhattan, New York was purchased by the Dutch in 1626 for 60 Gulders. The city consists of 5 boroughs; Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island. New York is the largest city in the United States with a population of over 8,250,000 people. With its diversity of cultures and places of interest, few U.S. cities can compare with New York City as an incredibly interesting place to be a kid or raise a kid!

Nannies caring for children in New York City have unmatched opportunities for teaching little ones about history, art, world religions, music, cuisine, literature and the world of commerce. A nanny has only to take her pick of libraries, parks, museums, restaurants and more to ensure that the children in her care learn something new and have a wonderful time. New York City kids, in the care of a thoughtful New York nanny, have the chance to grow up with a world-class understanding of life in America and a well-rounded appreciation for the variety that makes our country great.

Ten fun activities for your children and NYC nanny

1. Visit the NY Hall of Science
2. Go on an audition just for the heck of it
3. Wave to the cameras on The Today Show
4. Have tea at the Plaza
5. Ride the Shark Boat
6. Climb the Statue of Liberty
7. Ride the row boats in Central Park
8. Go to Dylan’s Candy Bar
9. Go to Economy Candy
10. Get locked up at the Police Museum

Twelve top New York City Parks that are good for children and fun for New York nannies

Central Park. Location: Central Park, New York, NY

This is THE park in New York. Your Manhattan nanny will find lots of kids for her charges to play with and lots of nannies to smooze with.

New York Hall of Science: A wonderful place for New York kids, parents and nanny NYC

Cunningham Park: Excellent place for a New York nanny to stroll with her charge.

Nelson A Rockefeller Park: Your NYC nanny will find lots to do with her charge in this park

Roy Wilkins Park & Rec Center: Children with their New York nanny will enjoy the many activities here.

New York public libraries: A wonderful place for children and their NYC nanny.

Andrew Heiskell Braille & Talking Book Library Mid-Manhattan Library

Blogs for New York City Nanny, Manhattan Nanny, Long Island Nanny, Brooklyn Nanny & New Jersey Nanny & Their Moms. Park Slope Families is an excellent resource for Brooklyn nannies and families.

Nanny Support Group for a Nanny Long Island, Nanny Brooklyn, Nanny Manhattan, Nanny NYC & Connecticut

Nanny Alliance of NY & NJ

Metro NY/NJ/CT area

Visiting the MoMA with Kids

MoMa is a wonderful place for NYC nannies to take their charges.

Kid Friendly Restaurants in New York City

Looking for a restaurant to take your kids to while you’re in New York City? For families traveling with kids, these New York City restaurants are great choices for both nannies and children.

Child friendly restaurants for New York nannies and parents

Petite Abeille‎ Excellent Belgian fare

Mimi’s Pizza & Family Restaurant‎ Kid Friendly – Upper East Side Restaurant

Lil’ Frankies Pizza‎ Kid-friendly Vegetarian-friendly

Island Restaurant‎ Upper East Side Eclectic food a good choice for both children and their New York Nanny

Spain’s World Heritage Cities – And Their Paradors

There are certain cities and places in the world that are so special, so emblematic of a particular kind of cultural wealth and uniqueness – that they have been declared as part of the ‘Heritage of Mankind’ by UNESCO. These places contain an “invaluable and irreplaceable heritage of not only each country, but of Mankind as a whole.”

Spain holds an esteemed position in this regard – as it possesses one of the longest lists of these World Heritage sites of any of the world’s countries. This list (and the names roll sweet off the tongue – for these are truly special places) include the cities of; Avila, Caceres, Cordoba, Cuenca, Salamanca, Santiago de Compostela, Segovia, and Toledo.

By visiting any of these extraordinary cities, travelers will be immersing themselves in the culture, art, and traditions of ancient peoples and civilizations which continue to flourish today.

Each of these World Hertage Cities contains one of the Spanish Parador system’s fine hotels. These hotels take unusual pride in participating in, and promoting the unique cultural heritage and traditions of these cities. You’ll find no better place to stay during your visit.

Avila –

This is perhaps the the most ‘Castillian of the cities in this heartland area of Spain – Castilla Y Leon. It is located at the highest altitude of any Spanish capital (and so experiences very cold winters), and also completely surrounded by splendid and perfectly preserved 11th century stone walls. For these reasons perhaps, Avila has an introspective nature, somewhat reserved, somber and medieval.

Two of Spain’s, and Catholicism’s, most famous saints made Avila their home; Santa Teresa (a 16th century mystic nun), and Saint John of the Cross. Avila has many monasteries, convents, and churches – as well as a grand cathedral – and these maintain a feeling of piety and peacefulness that has been many centuries in the making.

The Parador Avila (official name is Parador Raimundo De Borgoñas) presents a wonderful opportunity to literally walk in the footsteps of history. There still stands an ancient mulberry tree in the gardens of the Avila Parador that was climbed by Saint Teresa when she was a child! This building was a palace known as Piedras Albas in the 16th century. The Parador has floors of solid granite, beautiful decorative elements throughout, antique Castillian furniture in the public rooms, and very pleasant and spacious bedrooms decorated in a rustic style.

Visiting Avila and staying at the wonderful Parador of Avila there gives the traveler a great chance to feel an older era – to get a sense of what a major city in Castillian Spain was like during those ancient times.

Caceres –

This incredibly well preserved “city of stone” got its name during the Moorish control when it was know as the place of many citadels – “alcazares” in Arabic. This city is a jewel of medieval stone architecture. It has one of the most complete and well-preserved Medieval and Renaissance quarters in the world. The Romans founded the city in the 1st century B.C. as Norba Caesarina. The old part of Caceres is encircled by an ancient stone wall. This old section of the city – the “barrio antiguo” – is definitely for walking. A car would only inhibit your explorations.

This is the area of Spain perhaps most reminiscent of the era of the conquistadores and the Golden Age of Spain. Stay for awhile – experience the history and ambience of one of Spain’s finest cities and most interesting hotels.

And there is no better place to stay than the Parador de Caceres. This Parador incorporates the extended area of a former palace, and four ancestral mansions; the Palace of Torreorgaz, and the Casas de Ovando, Mogollon, Pareo y Paredes. It contains labyrinthine passages, quaint ‘hidden’ courtyards, and patios. The Palaces were originally Gothic in architectural style. The Caceres Parador is located on a very quiet street and provides the traveler with modern accommodations that still blend harmoniously with the medieval city beyond its walls.

Cordoba –

This city, along with Granada and Sevilla, embodies the haunting spirit and mystery of the epoch of the Caliphs and the enlightened rule of the Moors which lasted for many centuries. The Mezquita mosque is one of the modern architectural wonders of the world. Only one descriptive word does it justice – “awesome.”

Cordoba is more than 2,000 years old – having been founded in the earliest times of Roman rule. The old quarter here is a wonder of winding, white-washed lanes justifiably famous for their many beautifully decorated patios.

Cordoba is Andalucia at it best, and the best place to stay is the wonderful Parador De La Arruzafa which sits in the cooler foothills just outside of, and looking back down over the city.

The Pardor has a distinct feeling of ‘freshness’ and ‘well-being’ that is enhanced by the swimming pool and the surrounding grounds featuring a garden known as ‘Los Naranjos’ (‘The Orange Trees’), where the first palm trees planted in Europe are found. The inner rooms are elegant and very bright, with large living rooms and spacious bedrooms.

Cuenca –

This is the city of the famous “hanging houses.” These are buildings (originally constructed in the 16th century) that literally cling to the edge of the Huecar river canyon walls – as if ready to take flight out across the river far below.

Cueca is a city of the arts. There are three fascinating art museums here – one of which is installed in one of the famous “hanging houses.” Cuenca has an amiable feel. Night time strolling through the city’s old quarter – the so-called “high quarter” (as opposed to the commercial and newer “low quarter”) – has a special appeal – as does hiking along the river below the city and gazing back up at the soaring, venerable “skyscrapers” of Cuenca.

The elegant Parador Cuenca is a converted 16th century convent, San Pablo. The Parador is spectacularly located on its own ‘mesa’ rising up from the middle of the Huecar gorge. Many of the rooms have breathtaking direct views across to the famous “hanging houses.” Just a few yards from the Parador, there is a pedestrian only, walking bridge that spans the gorge and crosses over to the center of the old quarter across the canyon gorge.

Frescos and ornate plasterwork are everywhere, and a soothing garden now fills the original cloister. This 4 star hotel assures a remarkable experience, and is, by far, the best choice for lodging while visiting Cuenca.

Salamanca –

Salamanca is a visually luscious city. Ever changing hues of color – golden, honey and copper – reflect off the sandstone walls of the scores monumental structures made of the native stone. The Plaza Mayor, the Casa de las Conchas (house of conch shells), and the Plaza de Anaya – among many others – all gather and return the wondrous play of light in this splendid city.

Salamanca is an amber gem. The congruency and perfect “fit” of its stone architecture creates a beauty unsurpassed in any other city in Spain. The Plaza Mayor here is perhaps the grandest in all of Spain. It is the heart – from which the evening paseo radiates out in to the vibrant streets that surround it.

There is a wonderful mix here of the old, and the new – the profound magic of its ancient and proud history counterbalanced by the vitality of the thousands of students that are enrolled at its two great universities.

Staying at the wonderful Parador of Salamanca while visiting this World Heritage City will assure a memorable stay. This classy Parador sits just across the river form the old quarter, and has unmatched views back to the Cathedrals and other monuments.

Santiago de Compostela –

This wondrous city, and its cathedral were at one time the main pilgrimage destination of Europe. Through the centuries, millions of the faithful have faced tremendous hardship to make the long trek here – just to worship in the great Gothic Cathedral that is said to contain the bones of Saint James.

This city is the heart and soul of Galicia. It’s streets take the traveler on an altogether pleasant meander back through time. The city is at once venerable and dynamic. The Plaza Obradoiro is spectacularly grand, and the place to begin your wanderings of this most fascinating city.

The Parador Santiago De Compostela (official name is Parador Hostal Dos Reis Catolicos) is one of the world’s finest hotels – and its oldest! This building has been operating as a hostelery since 1499. The building was originally dedicated as a hostelry and hospital for pilgrims. It became a place for weary pilgrims to sleep and get medical attention after their long ordeal of traversing the Camino de Santiago – The Way of St. James – also called “The Route of Forgiveness.”

The Parador Santiago has all the fine touches and attention to detail that distinguish world-class hotels. Your quarters will have marble bathrooms, and heated towel racks add to the elegant feel. The public areas of the hotel include four cloisters of immense beauty and a dining room that can be described in no other way than regal. The ‘signature’ of the building is the intricate Plateresque entry which was added in 1678.

Segovia –

This city has been a melting pot, and retains some of each of the cultures that have contributed to its present form. Legend has it that the city was founded by Hercules – originally named “Briga.” The Romans came over 2000 years ago. It is said they adopted the strong, fast horses used by those original descendants of Hercules, and used them in conquering most of the rest of Europe. The Visigoths and Moors followed the Roman occupation – then came the Christian re-conquest. They’ve all left their marks and helped create a fascinating city in a stunning setting.

Segovia is one of the most interesting and visually pleasing of cities for the visitor. Standing and gazing out from its world-renown castle, one is transported as if to some vaguely-recalled fairytale. Everything about Segovia is mesmerizing and photogenic.

The fine Parador of Segovia is the perfect place to stay for visitors while they are discovering the enchantments of this historically fascinating area of Spain. The Parador building is set on a high hill just outside the city, and has tremendous views back down to the old city below, as well as across to the mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama – appearing to be so close you could seemingly reach out and touch their snowy peaks.

Toledo –

This is a city of great beauty and harmony. Toledo – the Imperial city – was once the capital of Spain. For many, Toledo mesmerizes – it exudes a strangely powerful attraction – dark, claustrophobic and profound. It was the seat of the Spanish Inquisition, the home of the brilliantly disturbed El Greco, and the scene of both vicious and heroic events during the Spanish civil war.

Dignified Toledo is full of splendor and endless surprises for the traveler. It is architecturally and culturally fascinating like few other cities could be. To gaze at Toledo from afar, is to be beguiled and astonished.

For sheer number of important sites for the visitor to visit, Toledo has perhaps no other rival in Spain.

The Parador of Toledo (official name is Parador Conde De Orgaz) is set on a remarkable site, the “Hill of the Emperor,” that has unmatched views out over the city below. From the Parador’s terrace restaurant and from many of the rooms, there can be had a panoramic view of the city spread out below. One can see how the grand old city of Toledo is like an island – almost completely encircled by the Tajo river. This has restricted its growth, and for this reason, there is a high concentration of fascinating, centuries-old buildings all within walking distance of one another.

The Toledo Parador building was originally built by the Count of Toledo in the 14th century and is completely Toledan in character. The restaurant serves as a school for the chefs of the other Paradors, and the meals are nothing short of spectacular. The official name of the Toledo Parador is the “Parador Conde de Orgaz” comes from the famous painting by El Greco – an adopted son of Toledo – titled “The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.”

Many travelers make it a point to visit all the these captivating cities during one grand tour around Spain. Few travel itineraries inside one single country – could possibly match it. Whether you can “do them all,” or are able to visit only a few of them – you will be richly rewarded.

Spain’s grand World heritage Cities have an ever-lasting allure for travelers, and especially for lovers of Spanish culture. The Paradors as well attract a devoted group of aficionados who would never think of staying anywhere else while traveling through this most historically and culturally fascinating land.

Travel, Adventure, Fun, Sex and Sun Down Under Australia

Dear Friends

Take a few minutes, so I can tell you more about Cairns in the Tropical North of Queensland, Australia. This is one amazing place and one of the most favorite Holiday destinations in the Land Down Under!

I am in love with the Great Barrier Reef and the relaxed lifestyle of Cairns. Just as much with the breathtaking Natural and Virgin World Heritage Rainforest in the Tropical North-east. That gave me the idea to share the information with likewise adventurous people, all over the world. I want to provide you with the knowledge and information to make the decision to come experience and enjoy for Yourself what the Best Place on Earth has to offer.

Cairns is a city with approximately 130 000 residents, growing fast. The city is squeezed between the Great Dividing Mountain Range and the Great Barrier Reef. The city is part of- and surrounded by Rainforest and is described as a “City in a Garden”. From the shore, the Great Barrier Reef closes in onto the Mainland and can be visited in so many ways to choose from. The Activities is limitless and the best I can do, is to describe as many as I can think of. I will try my best to group them, to give a good idea of possible options.

Weather wise? The average Min. and Max. Temperatures during the Summer months, range between 22 and 32 degrees Celsius and during the Winter months, between 17 and 28 degrees Celsius. Even in the Rainy Season you can expect heaps of sun, which will give you the time to work on a nice, even Suntan. Relax on the many Beaches, Islands, Esplanade Swimming Pool, or out at sea on the many Reef charters. Just remember that the summer months may become very humid. Just make sure that you drink heaps of fluid on these days!

Water activities? Swimming – Your pick whether it would be from a beach, in a pool, natural rock pools, the Esplanade, or the Reef. Just keep well clear of the Rivers, because they are considered as “crocodile-invested”. You want to have a relaxing holiday, not to become a meal! Snorkeling – Be amazed by the rich underwater life on the Barrier Reef, Islands, or even off some beaches in the area. Diving – You will find few places in the world, where diving is more of a specialized, main attraction. It would be a sin to visit Cairns and not to use the opportunity to visit the Reef for some of the most pristine diving in the world! Even if you can’t swim or have never dived before, expert Diving Instructors can be found on almost every Charter Vessel and they are always ready to take you for an Introductory Diving Lesson, to introduce you to diving. Certified Divers can explore the Reef under the guidance of the same Instructors, to show you the best of each and every Dive Site. A new Craze, is to explore the underwater world by the Seawalker Helmet Dive. You literally walk the seabottom with your head stuck in a glass-bubble. Your hair won’t even get wet! This is the ideal way for a person who want to get the feeling of being in an Aquarium, or if you can’t swim. Then there is also the option of the Glass bottom Boat Tours. Sit safe in a boat and be amazed while watching the Marine Life gliding by through the Glass Bottom, while listening to a Reef Presentation as the boat travel along. Another similar option, would be to travel in a Semi-submersible Submarine, with its glass windows. It will create the feeling of being in a Submarine, traveling amongst the Rich Marine Environment. Or, just take a seat in an Underwater Viewing Chamber/ Observatory and relax watching the diverse Marine Life. Underwater Scooters – One of the charters even have the option to explore more of the reef, by means of underwater mobilisation!

Scenic Flights? Seaplanes – Cairns Seaplanes will be one of your options to get the “Full Picture” of the Great Barrier Reef and the Tropical Rainforests. The same can be said of the Helicopter Flights. Both will take you for a breathtaking view of the Reef with its stunning blue water, the lush, green islands, the secluded sand-cays and the marine life to be spotted, even from the air. They will offer you any deal from being just a One-way or Return Charter between certain destinations, to a large assortment of choices of Scenic Flights over the Reef and the Rainforest. They will even take you to a secluded destination of choice, to spend quality time with the one you love. Special events, like Weddings or Social Events, are just part of the package they will work out, just for you!

Island and Reef Opportunities? Charters – You will find Day – and even Overnight Charters to serve you the best of what you can expect on your holiday. Options between Charters to various pristine Reef Destinations, is almost limitless. If you thought a dive in Daytime is good, you haven’t try a Nightdive yet! To sleep over at sea, is just as good. It is a wonderful experience, bringing some new peace in your heart and soul. Diving and Snorkling would be the main activities on most of the charters, but do not feel left out if that is not what you are into, because just the experience of being out at see and the alternative activities alone, will guarantee to colour up your day!

If you would love to spend your day on an Island, there is a few to pick from. Although there are many islands around, Green Island, Fitzroy-Island and The Frankland Islands would be the most visited Islands from Cairns. From Port Douglas you can visit the Low Islands. There is a few other, of which some is more Private, like Double Island off Palm Cove. Most of the larger Islands mentioned, will offer you a variety of activities, like Swimming, Snorkeling, Diving, Hiking, Glass-bottom Boat and Semi-submersible Tours. There is also activities such as the Helmet Dive, Sea-trampoline, Kayaking, Nautical Museum, Para-gliding or even Camping and Fishing at some. The best way would be to browse through my Activity listings to see which each has to offer.

Other Adventure Activities? Bungy-jumping – AJ Hackett is the inventor of Bungy-jumping and Cairns was obviously one of the first choices in Australia to build a structure to introduce other adrenalin- junky minded people too the “Rush”. They have resently just celebrated 20 years of safe jumping in Cairns! Hot Air Ballooning – Go for a Breathtaking Champagne Breakfast over the Tablelands, just west of Cairns. Watch the Sunrise over the Rainforests in the east, while looking down over the farmlands right under you, as they drift by. White Water River Rafting – Take your pick! From Half-day to Full-day packages, from Moderate to Daring! Take the Barron River or take on the mighty Tully River which will deliver you an Extreme Experience. Sky-diving – So many options to choose from. Different heights, different locations, with different views! From qualified Sky-diving, to Tandem Sky-diving. Para-gliding – Have fun being towed behind a powerful speedboat, while hanging from a parachute. Microlights – Get Introductory Microlight Flight lessons from Port Douglas. Enjoy the spectacular views as you glide over the beaches and river systems, while still doing valid flying hours at the same time. Kayaking – There is a couple of places to practice your rowing skills and to enjoy the freedom of the ocean. Jet-ski – Heaps of fun is the word! ATV- Riding – That is the description for “All Terrain Vehicles”, or 4-wheeler Dirt Bikes. Just up the Tablelands, you will have the option to test your off-road driving skills on some off-road tracks. Horse riding – If you love horses and the tropics, where better to “wind down” on horseback. There is various places to choose from. Take a winding road down the forest, or play in the waves on the beach. Four Wheel Drive, Offroad Driving – Test your skills on the various offroad tracks, from the local area, the famous Bloomfield track from Cape Tribulation up to Cooktown, or even as far as up to Cape York. Jungle Swinging – You have two options to choose from. The one is at AJ Hackett’s place where the Bungy-jumping is done from and the second at Cape Tribulation. Be thrilled by this high speed swing and at the same time, share and enjoy the moment with a friend, because up to three people can swing at a time. Hiking – You will find a variety of Walking Trails all in and around the city itself, or take some of the bigger challenges on some that may even take you up to a few days. Mountaineering- Pyramid Mountain would be the most famous one to give a go close to Cairns and there is even a race up the mountain once a year.

Wildlife? Zoo – You have the Cairns Wildlife Zoo close to Palm Cove and the Wildlife Safari Zoo up at Kuranda. Meet the native animals of Australia close-up at the Cairns Wildlife Zoo and have breakfast with the Beasts of Africa, at the Wildlife Safari Zoo. Bird-and Butterfly Sanctuaries – You have a combination of these sanctuaries at Kuranda and the Wildlife Habitat at Port Douglas. Interact with the friendly birds and animals and feed them yourself. Be amazed by the colorful Butterflies, of which many native of the Tropical Rainforests of Australia. Crocodile Farms – Go for a tour at Hartley’s Crocodile Farm, or the Crocodile Tours up the Trinity Inlet. Get expert guides to give you a presentation about the Rulers of the River and watch them feed the crocs. Get a newfound respect for these awesome reptiles. Wildlife Spotting – Take a tour with the old Army Duck at Kuranda and discover the native life in the Tropical swamps up at the Tableland. At Cape Tribulation you can choose between a Crocodile-spotting Expedition at Night, or a Wildlife-spotting Tour at Night, around the local forest. One of the most diverse and natural eco-systems in the world, can be found around Cape Tribulation.

Fishing? If you like fishing, Cairns is the place to be! From fishing the Dams inland for the famous Barramundi, to fishing the Estuaries for Mangrove Jack, Trevally, Blue Salmon, or Barramundi again, you still haven’t scratch the surface of choices! You can fish the many Rivers, the Beaches, the Rock-walls, the Islands, the Reef or the Deep-water of the Coral Sea. Cairns is on top of the list to go for the most sought-after heavy-weight,- the Black Marlin! Then I haven’t even mentioned the many Tuna-, Mackerel and other favorite Deep-sea species. With at least 1500 known species of fish on the Reef alone, the possibilities is limitless!

City life? Markets- Stroll through the Cairns Night Markets and be amazed by all the the local and overseas products up for sale. Indulge yourself with the variety of food served. Shops- Cairns have so many different Shopping Centers to choose from, but the best known one in the hart of the city, would be Cairns Central. If you want to take souvenirs back home with you, there is more shops than you can handle in the city. This is one of the reasons why Cairns is so famous as a Holiday-destination! Take your time and browse the different shops, or just sit back and relax while enjoying a Coffee, or have, from a Breakfast, to a Full Meal, at one of the many Food Outlets. Nightlife- Cairns is well-known for its famous Nightlife, with many Pubs and Nightclubs. Always heaps of people to meet and the atmosphere is Electrifying! Be ready to party the night away!

Sightseeing? Kuranda- This is a great little town to explore! It is described as a Village in the Forest. It have its own markets and as I’ve mentioned before, a Bird-and Butterfly Sanctuary. Close you will find the Wetlands, which you can explore by means of the old Army Duck, an Amphibious Vehicle to drive on land and just as well in the water. It is a beautiful, easy-going town and a nice place to wind down. The Safari Wildlife Park, can also be found just a short distance from the town. If you take the road to Kuranda, make sure to stop over at the Scenic Look-out point, from where you can gaze down on Cairns with its Sugarcane fields, with the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef in the distant background. The winding road will take you through Virgin Rainforest, which will impress you for sure. Skyrail- Another Scenic alternative, is to take this option, to glide over the Forest Canopy, just meters above the trees. Glide past the Barron Falls and stop over at the Mid-way station for a presentation about the forest history and get to see one of the oldest trees in the forest. Many people prefer to do one way with the Skyrail and the return with the Kuranda Scenic Train, of which I will talk next. Kuranda Scenic Railway- This is another option to visit, or return from Kuranda. As I’ve said, this option is a favorite to use in conjunction with the Skyrail. The breathtaking scenes remain the same, but from a different angle. Look down on the Barron-falls as you pass, or try to spot some wildlife on your trip. Barron-falls- From Kuranda, you can visit the Barron-falls, which can be extra spectacular in the rainy season. Take a Scenic Walking Trail down to the look-out point and be amazed by the awesome Forest Fauna and Flora. Barron-gorge- This is the rapids below the Barron-falls, you can visit from Cairns. Cross the bridge towards the Hydro Power Station and look down at the fast flowing waters beneath you. The raw beauty of the surrounding area, make up great pictures to take back home. Copperlodge Dam/Lake Morris- You can visit this dam by taking another Scenic Route from Cairns, by a narrow, winding road that go up the mountain range. Be astonished by the beauty of this eery Lake in the clouds, which feed Cairns with its pristine, clean, nice tasting water. Crystal Cascades- Visit this clear water Creek and cool off in its inviting cool water. The name describing it as “The Crystal Cascades” is very accurate with all the different natural pools and rock boulders down its path. From there you can also take a Walking trail up to the Copperlodge dam if you wish. The natural Forest is again, just amazing! Mossmann-gorge- This famous Gorge, is very much like the Crystal Cascades, but just close to port Douglas. The natural pools is just inviting and a pleasure to cool off in! The Gorge is situated in the Daintree National Park, which is one of the Natural Wonders of the World. Josephine-falls- / The Boulders-/ Fishery-falls. These 3 falls, is all situated in different areas between Cairns and Innisfail and although very similar in description to the Crystal Cascades and Mossmann-gorge, it each have its own draw-power and beauty. Visit the Pyramid-mountain, from where some of them originate and be stunned by the glare of the many smaller falls, all around the mountain, in the rainy season.

Sports? Cairns would not be a town if without any sports. I am not going to go into it much, because that is a aspect which is very similar wherever you go. Just as other towns, Cairns have its own share of sports-facilities, all over town.

Great places within a day’s drive south of Cairns? Paronella Park – A great place with breathtaking views and awesome Rainforest, just south of Innisfail. Mission Beach- Have fun and enjoy the sun on this long stretch of pristine beach with heaps of activities. Whitsundays- Explore this group of 74 Great Islands. Leave from Airlie-beach for a visit, or a stay-over at many of the inhabited islands. Hamilton Island with it’s own Airport, or the exclusive Hayman Island for people who expect just the best. Then there is Lindeman Island for people who want to share an island with only the bare minimum holiday-makers or the fun Daydream Island. Also visit many of the other islands, such as Long Island, South-and North Mole Islands or Hook Island. Visit the breathtaking Whitehaven Beach, with the purest and highest quality pure, white Silica Sand in the world. Party your night away in loveable Airlie-beach, which can lifestyle wise, be compared with Cairns in the small.

Great Places within a day’s drive north of Cairns? Port Douglas- A great town and nice place to wind down if you want peace away from the city-life. Heaps of activities, of which the most involve travelling to the nearby Low-islands or the Reef. Mossmann- Named after the famous Mossmann-gorge as I’ve described earlier. Cape Tribulation – A must go, especially if you are a backpacker. A very nice place to take part in various different activities, with a natural attraction for people, young and old! The nature is raw and untouched and it is the only place in the world, where two of the Natural Wonders of the World, meet up. The Great Barrier Reef meet the Ancient Daintree Rainforest on your doorstep! Walk onto the reef in some places, from the beach! Take the Bloomfield Track with your 4 x 4 vehicle, to the last Outback Town, better known as Cooktown. From there on north, only dirt tracks will lead you, until eventually you will end up at Cape York, the most northern point of Australia. Just be reminded, that will take you more than a day to complete and you will not be able to do it without being well prepared. But, that is another adventure well worth to give some thought!

Railroad Sights of Long Island: Hicksville, Oyster Bay, and Wantagh

1. Long Island Railroad Origins:

Defined by, and developed because of, the Long Island Railroad, the slender, almost fish-profiled tract of land originally called Paumanok by indigenous Indians and now bridge- and tunnel-appendaged to New York, owes much of its existence to it.

Earthly distances require means, speed, and sometimes intermodal connections to traverse so that miles, as measurements, can be reduced to hours and minutes. Untethered to the continental Untied States, and thus surrounded by water, Long Island itself sought solutions for the population which grew after the farmers were attracted there by the promise of sprouting crops. But not immediately.

“The century year of 1800 found Long Island to be a largely rural region of remote villages located along the shores,” according to Robert C. Sturm in his book, “The Long Island Rail Road Company: A History, 1834-1965” (Long Island-Sunrise Trail Chapter, National Railway Historical Society. 2014, p. 3). “The principle means of transpiration and communication were carriages and sailing vessels. The fact that travel was slow, arduous, and sometimes perilous meant that the average person rarely, if ever, traveled further than 20 miles from his or her place of birth.”

Integral to the seed that evolved into the Long Island Railroad and ultimately resolved this dilemma was the ten-mile Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad Company, whose April 25, 1832 incorporation was envisioned as the first step in a land-and-sea link to Boston, essentially bypassing Long Island itself, but reducing the primitive, three-day horse-drawn coach and 16-hour all-steamer methods to 11 hours.

The second segment of the intermodal journey became reality on April 24, 1834, when the Long Island Rail Road Company was chartered to operate from Brooklyn to Greenport on the North Fork. The third was the cross-sound ferry voyage to Stonington, Connecticut, whose hilly and river-interspersed southern shore otherwise eclipsed technological, track-laying capabilities, and the fourth was the continued and final rail link to Boston on the Norwich and Worcester.

Two years later, on April 18, or the very day that the Brooklyn and Jamaica was completed, the barren island began sprouting tracks, along with its crops, reaching Farmingdale in Suffolk County in 1841, Deer Park the following year, and Medford two years after that, and met the North Fork-originating, westward-laid rails by summer, although a shortage necessitated a temporary, two-mile, heavy timber and strap iron crowned insertion until the final section was delivered from Britain.

Inaugurating service on July 27, 1844, the fledgling, steam-powered railroad immediately demonstrated its capability, covering the 94 miles from Brooklyn to Greenport in three-and-a-half hours.

But the ground which supported it began to crumble after only a few years of operation, since the previously considered “impossible” southern Connecticut rail route was conquered by 1850, eliminating the need for the Long Island Railroad’s intermodal and inter-state purpose and leaving it to serve a sparsely populated farm community. Now, more than ever, it needed to grow branches that would cater to developing towns, after its initial, cross-island line spurred their development.

Today, tunnel-connected, beneath the East River, to Manhattan, the Long Island Railroad operates nine branches to 124 stations, covering more than 700 miles of track, and is both North America’s busiest commuter railroad, feeding and fielding the daily workforce, and the oldest one still operating under its original name. In 2009, it celebrated its 175th anniversary and six years later carried 87.6 million annual passengers.

Its rich history can be gleaned through Long Island’s many railroad-related sights.

2. Hicksville and the John Bull Locomotive:

Located on the flat, barren, 60,000-acre Hempstead Plains–the largest such prairie in the eastern United States-Hicksville was first claimed by Welsh settler, Robert Williams, in 1648. But, despite the promise of population, it remained just as virgin for another two centuries, until Valentine Hicks, a Jericho businessman, acquired the site and formed a land association to establish a town on it in 1834.

Because the first 15 miles of track had reached the area three years later, in March, its then terminus status transformed it into a destination or, in the reverse direction, a gateway to Manhattan in the west, establishing a tether to a major city.

Not coincidentally, Hicks himself became a Long Island Railroad board member and its second president, while the station, ultimately located at the crossroads of the Main Line and the Port Jefferson branch, evolved into a hub.

But financial panic at the time of its inception ensured that it remained the terminus for four years, until the intermodal connection could regain its momentum and ever eastward-laid track could imprint the ground. In the meantime, however, the railroad transported people, who, in sedentary form, translated into population, and the once barren farmland took root as a town comprised of stores, businesses, residences, and hotels. Its “Hicksville” name, again not coincidentally, reflected its Valentine Hicks founder.

The Long Island Railroad’s first locomotive, the “Ariel” and the 19th constructed by Matthias W. Baldwin, was delivered in November of 1835 and, aside from providing motive power for the inaugural Hicksville service, was employed for some two decades.

“The original locomotives were of simple construction, comprising a five-tube boiler mounted on a frame that also accommodated a two-cylinder engine,” wrote Sturm in “The Long Island Rail Road Company: A History, 1834-1965” (p. 10). “Hand-cut pine, which was conveniently harvested from the Pine Barrens, was the fuel. Water was carried on the tender car, either in casks or (in) an iron tank. There were no brakes; coasting to the station and finally ‘plugging’ the engine (running it in reverse) was the only method used to stop the trains.”

Insignificant in size and primitive in construction, it nevertheless made a major impact. It lit the fire on the steam revolution, shrank distances, and served as the threshold to the industrial era.

Ordered by Robert Stevens, who needed propulsion for the Camden and Amboy Railroad he established, the very first such John Bull locomotive commenced its journey as a collection of crate-cradled parts in Liverpool, England, in 1831, arriving on this side of the Atlantic from the Robert Stephenson and Company factory marked “one locomotive steam engine.” Assembly, needless to say, was required.

But after it was, it inaugurated New Jersey’s first rail service, as its name implies, between Camden and South Amboy two years later and plied tracks with it or other companies for 35 years. It was not retired until 1866, at the end of the Civil War.

It was ultimately operated by the Pennsylvania Railroad, which took over the Camden and Amboy and later owned the Long Island Railroad.

Featuring a 14.9-foot length and 6.3-foot width, the ten-ton engine, with a 0-4-0 wheel configuration, had a 4.11-foot wheel base and four-foot, 8.5 inch gauge. It was equipped with a 10.07-square-foot firebox and a 6.9-foot-long boiler, which had a 2.6-foot diameter.

Power was transmitted to the driving axles by means of pistons mounted under the boiler between the two front wheels.

The initial ground-level Hicksville Station was served by several depots throughout its history, including the second, which opened in 1873 to replace the first, consumed by fire nine years earlier; the third, which replaced the second after it was moved to a private location in 1909; and the fourth, which was temporarily employed between 1962 and 1965 while the tracks were elevated. That $8.8 million project, which covered three miles, but involved 11 miles of track, eliminated five grade crossings on the Main Line and two on the Port Jefferson branch, and required the extension and relocation of Newbridge Road under a viaduct.

Not far from those elevated tracks is a full-sized, non-operating replica of the John Bull locomotive named “Valentine’s Dream” and located in Hicksville’s Kennedy Memorial Park. Constructed by Chamber of Commerce President James Pavone during a two-year period and based upon the original one from 1831, which ran on the Camden and Amboy Railroad, it served as the inspiration for Matthias W. Baldwin to build locomotives in this country, one of which, of course, was the Long Island Rail Road’s first locomotive, “the Ariel,” whose image graces the town’s welcome signs and banners.

Unveiled on May 17, 2008, the 350th anniversary of the founding of the central Long Island town, the “Valentine’s Dream” reproduction became Hicksville’s own icon.

3. Oyster Bay Railroad Museum:

Forever associated with Oyster Bay is President Theodore Roosevelt, who frequently traveled by rail and used the station as his threshold to other parts of the nation, since his Sagamore Hill home was located only a short distance from it. But the equally nearby, appropriately named Oyster Bay Railroad Museum was not created for that reason. Instead, it began in 1990, when the volunteer Locomotive #35 Restoration Committee, under the jurisdiction of the Nassau County Parks Commission, cleaned and painted the deteriorating steam engine displayed in Mitchel Park.

Subsequently incorporated as the Friends of Locomotive #35, the group sought funding for a full restoration and a location to showcase it, resulting in the 2006-established not-for-profit organization that planted its roots in Oyster Bay and acquired additional artifacts, railroad equipment, and rolling stock.

“The mission of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum is to heighten public awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the railroad’s role in our heritage,” it self states, “and to increase public understanding of rail technology and its impact on Long Island life. (It) will collect, preserve, and interpret the railroad heritage of Long Island for future generations.”

Presently divided into an indoor visitor center and outdoor rolling stock display complex, it features photographs, artifacts, small railroad implements, a large-scale Hudson locomotive and tender, with a 4-6-4 wheel configuration, and a model train layout in the former, located at 102 Audrey Avenue. But much more is to be seen in the latter, a short drive away.

Here, locomotive #35, cornerstone of and catalyst to the museum, and historically significant because of its participation in the 1955 “End of Steam” ceremony in Hicksville, remains a sectioned, unassembled work-in-progress, and is under renovation at the Steam Operations Corporation in Birmingham, Alabama. Built in 1928 in the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Juniata, Pennsylvania, shops for operation by its then-subsidiary Long Island Railroad, the engine, with a 4-6-0 wheel configuration, gave faithful, high daily, multiple-stop service for 27 years before passing the torch to diesel technology. It was the last steam locomotive to operate on Long Island.

There are several other fully restored and assembled engines and cars here, however.

The first of these is actually a pair of 25-ton switchers. Constructed in 1958 by General Electric, these two 150-hp mini-locomotives were used to “switch” and move passenger and freight engines throughout the railroad’s Morris Park servicing and repair facility in Richmond Hill, Queens.

According to the museum, the affectionately called “dinkies” were “four-wheel, cabin-driven, 25-ton diesel locomotives that toiled away in the back shops of the Long Island Railroad from 1958 through the early-2000s.”

Not retired until 2006, engine #398 was purchased as far back as 1958 and #397 was acquired almost three decades later, in 1987, from the Naporana Iron and Metal Company.

Another engine-this time of diesel technology-is also on display-at least in spirit, if not in full physical form.

Built by the American Locomotive Company (Alco) in 1947 and designated FA-1 (for “Freight A” unit), it was operated by the New Haven Railroad, which numbered it 0402, until it returned it in 1963 after an accident. Separating the cab from the engine, Alco sold the former portion to the Long Island Railroad for display at the 1964-1965 World’s Fair, held in Flushing Meadows, whereafter it served as an interactive exhibit for children at the Tanglewood Day Damp in Malverne. The Oyster Bay Railroad Museum acquired it in 1999. The plaque commemorating its restoration is dated May 8, 2010.

Although the Long Island Railroad was never inceptionally envisioned as a commuter carrier connecting its namesake population with the metropolises of New York and Brooklyn and, to a lesser degree, to its own towns, it ultimately evolved into one, achieving its true purpose. Toward that end, steam- and, later, diesel locomotive-pulled cars were integral to the morning and evening traffic flows from and to the island through the East River tunnels. One of them is on display.

Constructed in 1923 by the American Car and Foundry Company and initially appendaged to steam engines, the P54 coach, a lightweight structure that replaced the all-wood and later hybrid steel frame and wood body ones which preceded it, is an expression of construction development.

Numbered 7433, it was the first all-steel passenger car. It was one of almost a thousand built for the Pennsylvania and Long Island railroads, and featured direction-changeable, “walk over” seats, and, in the case of the museum’s example, overhead fans mounted on their original ventilators.

Because the coach’s reduced weight subjected riders to a bouncing effect, it was often dubbed a “Ping Pong” car. Draped in several liveries and retrofitted with more modern lighting, flooring, seats, and luggage racks, #7433 provided a half-century of service and was not retired until 1974. It is one of the last of its type to remain.

Other museum exhibits include two divergent-era and -purpose cabooses, which, before the 1950s, traveled from end to end through Long Island’s still-abundant, potato- and cauliflower-sprouting farmland as the end themselves to elongated freight trains.

Built in February of 1927 by the American Car and Foundry Company at a $17,880 cost, caboose #12 consisted of mixed material construction, its frame, underbody, and trucks made of steel, but its upper body employing wood, and stretched 29.4 feet in length and weighed in at 35,430 pounds.

“The end of the train had many names: crummy, palace, shack, or caboose,” according to the museum. “It was home for the crew and an office, too. Bobbing along behind a string of freight cars, like an exclamation point at the end of a sentence, the caboose spoke loud and clear, saying, ‘I am the end. The train is complete.'”

As befitting all homes on wheels, it was outfitted with sleeping bunks, storage closets, a sink, a coal stove, and a toilet, and was occupied by a conductor, who was responsible for a train’s safe movement and upon whose directive the engineer relied, and a brakeman, who ensured that the hose extending from the locomotive to the caboose itself maintained the required level of air pressure.

Long Island produce often provided “complementary,” track-side “shopping” for crews until some farmers routinely bundled freshly picked crops and made them accessible to them.

Serving all branches of the Long Island Railroad, caboose #12 was not retired until 1961, whereafter it served as the sleeping quarters of Shore Line Trolley Museum restorers in East Haven, Connecticut, and was finally acquired by the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum in June of 2002. It own restoration occurred between 2008 and 2009.

Its other caboose, #50, was constructed by the International Railway Car Company in 1958. Designated a Class N-22 unit, it was one of the first all-steel ones to replace the preceding wooden ones. Although train visibility was either afforded by tall cupola or extended side bay window design features, this one offered neither, but nevertheless provided faithful utilitarian service until its 1993 retirement.

A later, 2011 museum addition is the quarter-length electric simulator, which appears identical to the actual car, and was employed to train and certify engineers on M1 and M3 equipment.

A State of New York contract, in conjunction with the Long Island Railroad’s new owner, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), was signed for 770 M1 electrified passenger coaches (numbers 9001 to 9770). Branded “Metropolitans” themselves and built between 1968 and 1973, they replaced the mixture of outdated equipment remnants from the Pennsylvania Railroad regime, except the 1950s-era, diesel-hauled Pullman Standard ones, which themselves were numbered 2700 to 2900.

The workhorse of the electrified fleet, the M1 cars were not retired until the early-21st century, when they were replaced by the advanced M7s.

Contrasting the old with the new, the museum’s turntable, of continuous girder design, was the second to have been used at the Oyster Bay Station and, along with the wye and the loop, served as one of three methods of reorienting a locomotive for its return trip.

“The turntable at the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum is actually the second at this location,” according to the museum. “The LIRR reached Oyster Bay in 1889, having been extended from Locust Valley. That turntable had been at that location since 1869 and, after 20 years, it was moved with expansion of the service to Oyster Bay.”

It was not the only early-railroad remnants once here, however.

“A four-stall engine house was built in 1889 and was located southeast of the turntable,” it continued. “In 1904, the old turntable was removed and a new 70-foot-long one was installed north of the engine house. It was originally powered by a pneumatic motor… In 1932, it was electrified and operated under that power source until taken out of service sometime in the 1970s.”

Beyond the fence is the Oyster Bay yard, cradling bi-level commuter cars, and beyond them is the railroad station depot, symbol of both the past and the future.

Designed by architect Bradford Lee Gilbert in the Tudor revival style, it was completed in the spring of 1889 to cater to the track extension from Locust Valley to Oyster Bay, but subsequently expanded in anticipation of increased travel spurred by Theodore Roosevelt’s 1901 election as US president. A rail enthusiast himself, he frequently covered the short distance from his Sagamore Hill home to the station and commenced his journey to Washington, D.C., among other destinations.

Subjected to modifications throughout its history, it lost its canopies during the 1940s, some of its doors and windows by brick-plugging during the 1960s, and was finally closed in 1999, after a 110-year utilization, when it was replaced by a new platform to the west to conform to the latest bi-level passenger cars.

Owned, along with the plaza, by the Town of Oyster Bay, it was subleased and is currently managed by the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum, and is both an Oyster Bay Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Its plaque reads, “Oyster Bay Railroad Station. Home train station of Theodore Roosevelt, President t of the United States, 1901-1909. July 2005 placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Plaque sponsored by Theodore Roosevelt Association and Oyster Bay Historical Society.”

Now under renovation, it will eventually replace the museum’s Audrey Avenue facility and house both exhibits and a visitor center, and will be linked, via a short walking path, through Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park to the outdoor rolling stock and turntable display yard.

4. Wantagh Railroad Station Museum:

Originally encompassing Wantagh, Seaford, and the southern portion of Levittown, the area, settled by Captain John Searman, Robert Jackson, and their families in 1644, was one of the earliest to have been claimed by the English in eastern Nassau County. Initially known as Jerusalem, it was one of many biblically named towns, along with Jericho and Bethpage.

A quiet village until the Searman, Jackson, and Birdsall families serving George Washington’s army occupied Jerusalem itself during the Revolutionary War, it harnessed the event as a post-conflict catalyst to growth in 1783.

Facilitated by the arrival of the railroad more than a century later, in 1867, its southern portion attracted considerable development and was renamed Ridgewood in order to distinguish it from its original roots in the north. But that distinction was further cemented only 24 years later when it adopted the present Wantagh designation, since confusion with the identically named Queens town was frequent. Chosen to honor Wyandance, the grand sachem of the Montauk Indians, it retains its name to the present day.

Integral to its development was the Wantagh Railroad Station. Constructed in 1865 at an $800 cost and located on Railroad Avenue, the originally-designated Ridgewood Station featured an enclosed ticket office, in which Emma Whitmore served as its first female employee, a telegraph office, a passenger waiting room, a baggage room, and open east and west ends. Heated by a potbelly stove in its center, it sports one very similar to its original today.

The platform consisted of wooden planks.

Because it was slated for demolition in 1966 when the street-level tracks were elevated to reduce vehicular traffic congestion, it was acquired by the prior-year established Wantagh Preservation Society and relocated to the present Wantagh Avenue site.

Restored to its 1904 appearance, it was opened as a public museum on May 16, 1982 and offers a look into turn-of-the-century life through vintage photographs and display cases that feature memorabilia from the area’s past.

Trains still await passengers outside. At least one car does. Identified by and the very symbol which brings the Wantagh Station to railroad life, is the red-liveried, track-supported passenger coach, “Jamaica.”

Manufactured by the American Car and Foundry Corporation in 1912 for the Long Island Railroad’s Long Island Parlor Car Company subsidiary, the 80-ton coach, measuring 80 feet long by 14 feet high, originally accommodated 26 passengers, but was subjected to a multiple-application history Redesignated “The Montauk” for Long Island Railroad business use in 1925, for example, it was subsequently rebuilt only five years later as an observation car, incorporating staterooms, a galley, a dining room, butler’s quarters, and open decks.

As an expansion of then-advanced technology, it featured its own power generator, was heated by coal stoves and pipe-circulating, baseboard-hidden hot water, and cooled by a fan that blew air over two 300-pound ice blocks, ensuring early air conditioning during its weekend travel suspensions in Montauk.

Eight years after its 1941 return to parent company Pennsylvania Railroad for modernization, it was repurchased for the sum of $26,434 and operated until 1957 as the “Jamaica,” once again reclassified as a passenger coach in 1962 and serving Long Island Railroad express train routes.

Retired six years later and donated to the Wantagh Preservation Society, it spent another four years in storage at Grumman’s Bethpage plant, before being moved to its present location on October 25, 1972. It was rededicated in 1996.

Today, it sits on original, hand-hewn ties and 80-pound rails, and features its original, hand-applied pin stripping in its interior.

Only a few feet away is another hark to Wantagh’s past: its post office. Once serving the rural town, which was then mostly populated by farmers, the tiny, ten- by twelve-foot wooden structure across from the railroad depot was built in 1907 and served as the area’s initial post office, located on the corner of Wantagh and Railroad avenues. Operated by a single person, who sorted the mail into slots, it witnessed the rise of postage from a former two to a current 49 cents for a two-ounce letter. Gertrude Ballem was the last person to work in it.

Together, the railroad station, the passenger coach, and the post office, maintained by the Wantagh Preservation Society, offer glimpses into early 20th-century Wantagh life.

The society itself, chartered by the New York State Board of Regents as a nonprofit educational corporation, was founded in 1965 for the purpose of saving the station’s Victorian architecture when plans for the elevated track crossing called for its removal, and Nassau County subsequently provided the present site at Wantagh and Emeric avenues for it.

Love the Long Island Life

Long Island, a suburban section of NY, is divided into Nassau and Suffolk Counties and as you head east, the Island splits into the North Fork and the South Fork. The North Shore, which borders the Long Island sound, has always been a very affluent area and has earned the nickname of the “Gold Coast”. The Gold Coast is home to many mansions from the early 1900’s, which are now museums and host to special events and weddings. Some of the mansions include the Vanderbilt Mansion, the Glen Cove Estates, and Oheka Castle.

The South Shore of Long Island is a more diverse area with different income levels and many affluent communities. The South Fork on the east end is known for the famous Hamptons, a playground for the rich and famous. The South Shore borders the Atlantic Ocean and as a result, has some amazing beaches with great waves, including Jones Beach and Robert Moses.

There are so many fun and interesting things to do see on Long Island. From annual festivals to farmers markets to holiday events, there are plenty of options throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Some of the annual events include the Oyster Bay Festival, the Jones Beach Air Show, and the Strawberry Festival in Nassau County and also on the North Fork in Suffolk County. We also has many famous attractions including Adventureland Amusement Park and Splish Splash Amusement Park for the kids. You can also visit the Montauk Lighthouse or one of the many historic houses in East Hampton, including the Mulford Farm, the Town House, the Clinton Academy, the East Hampton Town Marine Museum, and the Osborn-Jackson House.

One of the benefits of living here is that we are not too far from Manhattan! The “Big Apple” is so close and we get to enjoy not only Long Island life here in the suburbs, but the excitement and hustle and bustle that the city brings. Our proximity to New York City allows us to take full advantage of the NYC Broadway shows, the many parades during holidays, and endless fun events. Transportation to the city is not too difficult – you can drive, take a train, or hop on a bus and have plenty of time to explore the city and get back the same day. The length of time of a train ride varies depending on how far east on Long Island you are traveling from. However, it is definitely do-able.

Long Island is also home to the famous wineries. There are over 40 wineries on the east end, which consists of the north and south forks. The majority of the wineries are on the north fork. Our wine country has become a widely popular tourist destination for visitors coming from long distances. To visit the vineyards and wineries during the warmer months makes a fun and interesting time. Many local residents take a drive out to see the harvest in full swing and get a “taste” of the homegrown wines.

Long Island Vacation Planning Tips

Long Island is a favorite tourist spot of many people in the New York State. The island is about 115 miles long, from west to east. The island is home to golf courses, fine beaches, shopping venues, and luxury lifestyles. People planning to have a vacation may stay at any of the luxury Long Island hotels. Such accommodations are popular across the island.

How can you get there?

Traveling to the island is possible via plane. There are a few airports that serve as access points to Long Island. MacArthur Airport, for instance, is located within the island. Tourists may also gain access to the island via train. A railroad runs from Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan to different spots in Long Island. Ferry services are also one of the popular means of transportation used to get to the island, which is near the mainland, New York State. Many people also get access to Long Island via their own vehicles. Travelers from New York or New Jersey may get to the island via their cars. There are three main roads on the island, all running an east – west orientation. These are the Long Island Expressway, Northern State Parkway, and Southern State Parkway.

There are a wide range of activities for travelers to do. The island is open for tourists all year-round, but most tourists would go there during the summer or early fall, when conditions are the most favorable. More tips are enumerated as follows:

1. Learn about the place first. The island is not as small as it seems. It is a huge island with many things to offer. Basically, there are only two counties – Nassau and Suffolk. Brooklyn and Queens are part of New York City, even if they are part of the island geographically. The majority of Long Island is a suburban zone. Popular towns in the island are Bay Shore, Brookhaven, East Hampton, Huntington, Islip, Long Beach, Mineola, Ronkonkoma, and Smithtown. Each of these major towns may have something different to offer. You can search them online so you will know what to expect.

2. Look for information online about popular tourist destinations like The Hamptons, Shelter Island, Fire Island National Seashore, and North Fork.

3. Find out what you can do once you are there. Popular summer activities are beach hopping, swimming, and fishing. Bar hopping at night in Port Jefferson or Huntington is also popular. Tourists also love to explore the museums in Long Island. Popular museums are the Hicksville Gregory Museum, Cradle of Aviation, Sands Point Preserve, Village of Roslyn, and African American Museum.

4. Consider making Long Island hotel reservations in advance. Hotel booking should be part of your vacation plan. Also, find and talk to a few car rental services long before the scheduled trip if you don’t have a car yourself, and would like to rent one for your stay in the island.

5. Pack things appropriately. Do not include items that will only add an insignificant amount of weight to your luggage. Only bring things that you most likely will need. Include OTC medications, identifications, a camera, and some personal care stuff. If you need to bring bulky items, consider having them shipped to the hotel beforehand, so you will not have the inconvenience of bringing them yourself. Check what the hotel offers to guests. If they offer towels, for instance, you may leave yours at home.

Rhodes Island Greece – Travel Tips and Tid Bits

Prior planning is always helpful in making a journey more relaxing and enjoyable.

Dress code in the Greek Islands is very casual, for men shorts and T-shirts is the norm, and for ladies, light summer dresses or similar to men. If you are coming in Spring or Autumn you should bring some warmer clothes just in case it gets a bit cold in the night. Even for those who want to dress formally, smart casual is the norm, which would be a pair of trousers and a shirt.

In restaurants. The island of Rhodes can satisfy every gourmet because it produces various products of excellent qualities and the local cuisine is a real delight for the senses. Fresh fishes and a big variety of seafood’s, big choice of “mezes” (Mediterranean snacks), meat on grill, mousaka (the famous dish with potatoes, aubergines, cheese and béchamel) are some of the many Rhodian specialties.

The wines of Rhodes are famous for their great taste and quality since ancient times because the wineries and distilleries of the island produce delicious wines from the island’s vineyards which are beneficing from the fertility of the soil and the constant sun. The most famous wine labels of Rhodes are the dry wines “Ilios”, “2400”, “Villare”, and “Grand Maitre” and the dry red wine “Chevalier de Rhodes”.

Booking a Taxi There are strict regulations regarding the number of passengers per taxi. Up to 4 passengers are allowed per car so bear this in mind when making a booking for a taxi. Make sure your luggage fits into a regular-sized car trunk, otherwise you’ll have to hire a second taxi for any excessive luggage.When requesting a taxi make sure you are at the pick-up point without delay since a taxi will be there within minutes.

Internet Cafes. There is one right in the harbor, one in the Old Town, and several others in the New Town and the villages of Rhodes Island. There are also internet cafes open to the public at the most hotels.

Maps. There are a number of maps of the island on the market and most of them are provided free of charge by Hotels, and Travel Agents.

Newspapers and magazines. Most western European newspapers and magazines arrive in Rhodes on a daily basis and they are available everywhere.

Catholic Church. The Catholic church of Santa Maria, located at the corner of Kathopouli and Dragoumi Streets, holds Mass services from April to October at 7 a.m. on weekdays and at 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Sundays. The St. Francisco church located on Dimokratias Street, celebrates Mass from April to October at 8.30 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on Sundays. During the winter months, both churches hold Masses only on Sundays.

A Golf course is available at Afandou (17 kilometers south-east of Rhodes City) and Mini Golf courts can be found in all the large hotels and in all the touristy resorts.

Casino. As all cosmopolitan places Rhodes has its own casino. The dress code is strict for men but for the women a dress is enough.

Signs denoting post offices are usually bright yellow, as are post-boxes. If you need to send a letter there are stamp vending machines and post-boxes outside all central post offices. There is also a post-box right in the harbor few meters from the pier.

OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications Organization) offices are the cheapest way to make local or international calls. Rhodes is equipped with a very advanced telecommunications system. You can dial directly anywhere in the world without the involvement of the telephone operator. The blue telephone boxes found all over the island can be used either for local or for long distance calls. They all use phone cards that can easily be found in every kiosk or shops with the “Phone cards Sold Here” sign. You can get them also right in the harbor, or in the Airport.

Beaches. The big attraction of Rhodes is the beautiful beaches that surround the entire island. Entrance to all the beaches is free, but you will have to pay only if you rent a sun bed (about 6 euro). The beaches on the east coast are ideal for swimming since the sea is extremely calm, while on the west coast is generally windy and it is best offered for windsurfing and other water sports. This does not in any way means that you can not swim on the west coast. As a matter of fact, many people prefer the big waves of the west coast than the calm and smooth sea of the east coast…

Police. All the main resorts areas have branches of the Tourist Police, whose duties include the inspection of hotels, restaurants etc.. And service to make sure that services to tourists are of acceptable standards. Tourist Police officers who speak languages bear the flag of the country in which the language is spoken on their uniforms.

Health. Rhodes has plenty of doctors of all practices. The State Hospital is open 24 hours a day for emergency cases. There are also plenty of pharmacies and chemists.

Banks and ATM machines. There are many Greek and International banks that are licensed to do business in Rhodes. All of them offer exchange services within the town of Rhodes as well as in other popular resort areas. Banks are open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. During the period from April to October, some of them are open in the evenings as well (5 p.m., to 7.30 p.m.) and on Saturday mornings, but only for the exchange purposes. In order to exchange cash or traveler’s checks, you need to have your passport with you. In addition, almost all hotels have exchange offices on their front desks. Visa, Master Card and other well known credit cards are also accepted by the majority of shops, and hotels. And you won’t need your entire wallet only some cash, you may prefer to use ATM machines when you need cash. ATMs are everywhere. Cash sometimes gets you a better price than a charge card.

Shopping. Rhodes is an interesting place to shop. Rhodes has at least 2000 years of manufacturing unique and skilful handicraft gold jewellery. Many shops sell classic and modern gold and silver jewellery as well as antique reproduction jewellery, in 14k and 18k with diamonds and precious stones. Antique carpets and hand made silk on silk rugs, furniture, paintings and porcelain can also be found. Rhodes also famous for the leather and fur, bottles, leather coats, fur coats, and mink. Other kinds of goods such as souvenirs, sponges, clothes, shoes, books, and more can be found in the many shops of Rhodes Island. And the traditional art workshops for the world famous hand made Rhodian pottery’s-ceramics.

In restaurants tipping is customary and on average is around 15% above the bill, in some establishments it is already added but not in all.

Holidays and Feasts. The following is a list of official holidays, during which all departments of public services are closed.

January 1- New Year’s Day

January 6 – Epiphany.

First day of Lent (movable) – in Greek is known as ‘Clean Monday’

March 7 – anniversary of the reunion of the Dodecanese Islands with the rest of Greece

March 25 – anniversary of the revolution for freedom against the Turkish invaders.

Good Friday (movable)

Easter Sunday, Easter Monday (movable)

May 1- May Day

Of the Holy Spirit (movable)

August 15 – Dormition of Virgin Mary

October 28 – anniversary of Greece’s refusal to submit to the Italians in 1940

December 25 – Christmas Day

New York City Travel Guide

New York is a city of different races and cultures, iconic images and a sense of community. With its yellow cabs, skyscraper buildings, steam vents and amazing people, you won’t find another place like it in the world. In other words, New York has a unique personality of its own and is a place that everyone should visit at least once in their life. Whether you are enjoying a spot of shopping, strolling through Central Park, experiencing the money buildings on Wall Street or just relaxing over brunch at one of the city’s many diners, New York has something for everyone.

Once you have experienced this amazing city you will want to return time and time again, each time discovering something new. You can experience all the major suburbs by foot, cab or bus. From Little Italy to Brooklyn and Chinatown to Manhattan, there is so much to explore and discover.

Eating out is an experience in itself, with thousands of restaurants you will be absolutely spoilt for choice. Favourites include Diner which is a converted dining car, Chat ‘n’ Chew where friends congregate for a good old ‘chin-wag’ over a huge Holy Cow burger or some delicious macaroni cheeses and not forgetting the New York institute which is the 21 Club.

Manhattan

The oldest of the five boroughs of New York City, Manhattan is the main commercial, financial and cultural centre of the USA. Manhattan has many famous landmarks, attractions, museums and universities. The other four boroughs are the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.

The Bronx

This is the only borough that is located primarily on the mainland. Although the Bronx is densely populated, about twenty-five percent of its area is open space which includes the Bronx Zoo, the New York Botanical Garden, Pelham Bay Park, Van Cortlandt Park and the Woodlawn Cemetery.

Brooklyn

This is the most densely populated of New York’s boroughs. This amazing multi-cultural borough is home to some great attractions including Prospect Park which includes Prospect Park Zoo, the Long Meadow, Litchfield Villa and a 60 acre lake. The park is also home to the Prospect Park Bandshell which hosts outdoor concerts in the summer and several baseball fields.

Queens

Home to JFK International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, these airports are among the busiest in the world. Queens is also home to some great attractions, including Flushing Meadows Park (home of the New York Mets baseball team and the US Open tennis tournament), the Aqueduct Racetrack, Kaufman Astoria Studios and the Silvercup Studios.

Staten Island

Sitting in New York Bay, Staten Island is the least populated of the five boroughs of New York. The island can be reached from Brooklyn by the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge but most visitors choose to visit the island via the Staten Island Ferry. This ferry is popular with tourists as it offers amazing views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Little Italy

Located in lower Manhattan, as the name implies the neighbourhood is known for its large population of Italians. You will be spoilt for choice by the many Italian restaurants and shops here.

Chinatown New York City

Located in one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Manhattan, Chinatown is where Chinese immigrants settled in the 1800’s. Here you will experience a unique cultural and historical experience that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Explore the history of the people who settled here, including Chinese, early Irish, Jewish and Italian immigrants, as you wander around the intriguing streets of this neighbourhood. Some landmarks not to be missed when visiting Chinatown include Columbus Park, Chatham Square, Five Points, Edward Mooney House, the Church of the Transfiguration, Mahayana Buddhist Temple, Shearith Israel Cemetery, the Museum of Chinese in America and the Museum at Eldridge Street.

Whatever you are looking for in a holiday New York has it all, you won’t be disappointed!

Jakarta City Travel Guide: Exploring The Beauty of Indonesian Capital

Jakarta is the beautiful capital of the Southeast Asian country, Indonesia. Being an archipelago of more than 18,000 islands, the nation is filled and overflowing with the most wonderful sights and experiences. Its capital alone holds enough things to do to last an entire month of walking around the city without pause, and still not being able to explore every nook and cranny. It is so full of different types of attractions to visit, and is very rich in historical and cultural heritage. To help you wander through this wonderful place, here’s a mini Jakarta travel guide.

Seeing Jakarta’s History: The Old Town
The best place to go to for a look at what Jakarta was in the old days is definitely Jakarta Old Town, or Old Town Batavia, an area formally stated as heritage in 1969. Even European travelers and voyagers as early as the 16th century saw the beauty of the place and called it “Jewel of Asia” and “Queen of the East”.

In Old Town Batavia, history is brought back to life with the magnificent and picturesque scenery of old colonial Dutch architecture and surroundings. The streets are lined with museums and other interesting tourist attractions. Some of these are Gedung Arsip Nasional, Cafe Batavia, Postal Office, Museum Bank Indonesia, and the Museum Fatahillah.

Other than the many buildings you can freely walk into, you can also see many street vendors and open markets in the area. Visit the old drawbridge, Sunda Kelapa old harbor, and delight yourself in the old Javanese leather puppets at the Puppet Museum.

Every Monday, most of the museums in Jakarta are closed. The best day to visit is on Sunday, because usually there would be a puppet show at the Puppet Museum. At the same museum, you can also see the funeral of Jan Pieterszoon Coen. He was an officer of the Dutch East India Company in Indonesia (VOC) in the early 17th century who renamed the city into Batavia from its older name, Jayakarta.

Immersing Yourself in Indonesia’s Culture: Taman Mini Indonesia Indah
Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII) is literally translated to English as Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park. This large 250 acre park, located in the area of East Jakarta, is indeed one of the most beautiful and perfect places to feel like you’re actively participating in the culture of the beautiful Indonesia.

An hour is not enough to witness everything you need to experience in this colossal park, as it is a conglomeration of everything Indonesian. The entire archipelago is crammed into the place, and the best thing to do is to let yourself be swept away by the sheer magnificence of experiencing all you can of the country in the shortest time possible. If you take a cable car inside the park, you will see the beautiful of Indonesian archipelago miniature in the middle of a lake.

Encyclopedia Britannica dubs TMII as a living museum, because of all the culture you can get from the entire experience. Each of the 34 provinces of Indonesia are represented in the park as pavilions. Each of them have their own unique surroundings, furniture, and ornaments to give the true feel of the territory. There are also more informative and fascinating museums that you can visit while inside the park, such as the Reptile Museum where you can see a dragon Komodo, Military Museum, Indonesian Museum, etc. You can also walk around and enjoy the calm beauty of the different sub-parks and have fun at the recreational facilities.

The best day to visit TMII is on Sunday, because the pavilions in the park usually perform their traditional dances and shows only on Sunday or public holiday.

Visiting the National Landmark of Jakarta: Monas
And of course, your stay in Jakarta would not be complete without seeing the monument built to remember the day Indonesia became a free country: the Monas, stand for Monumen Nasional. It was built by the first President, Mr. Soekarno, in 1961 and opened to the public ten years later. In Soekarno era, it was the highest building, the 132-meter monument powerfully tower high over Jakarta, a visible testament to the fight for freedom from colonial rule.

When you go there, you can reach the top of the Monas via elevator and see all of Jakarta. Afterwards, you can visit the Independence Room, which holds the national flag as well as other important artifacts. At the base of the Monas is the National History Museum, and the surrounding area is a beautiful park named Merdeka square. In the museum, you will find 51 dioramas telling the story about Indonesia’s struggle for independence.

Sunday and holiday are not best days to visit Monas if you want to reach the top, because there are many students and people want to reach the top causing a long queue. There is only one lift with maximum 11 persons maximum capacity while hundreds of people want to enter the lift every holiday.

The above destinations are easy to reach, but many people in Jakarta cannot speak English. That is why you need an English speaking driver or a tour guide. This Jakarta Tourist Guide can help you reach the best destinations in Jakarta and explore more about the beauty of the city.

Planning a Trip to New York City

No matter what time of year it is, New York City, is the perfect vacation destination. There are so many great things to do that the weather will make little difference to you and your family.

In the winter you can see all the wonderfully decorated department store windows, the large Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, and take a horse and buggy ride with a warm blanket through Central park. There is nothing like buying hot chestnuts from a street vendor and walking along Fifth Avenue during the winter months. You should also plan on seeing the Christmas Show with the world famous Rockettes!

In the Spring and Autumn you can get a lot done in New York City. The weather is usually crisp and clear, so that a light sweater or jacket is all you need. Visit one of the many great museums, art galleries, and restaurants. Don’t forget to patronize some of the various street vendors that dot the landscape throughout Manhattan.

The Summer often brings hot and humid days to New York City. Wear light clothing and comfortable shoes so you can get around and enjoy the city in the summer heat. Consider using public transportation to manoeuvre around so that you do not have to be out in the hot sun all day.

Once you decide on when to visit New York City, you will want to choose your hotel. While many hotels charge a premium you can still find great deals and packages if you do your research and plan your trip out ahead of time. When calling hotels be sure to ask if they have any specials, packages, or discounts. The more you can get included in your hotel rate, the more you can save on your trip. Having complimentary breakfast, airport transfers, tickets to shows, or free internet access can save you a lot of money.

If you find the New York hotels that are in Manhattan to be too expensive, you can easily stay in one of the 5 surrounding boroughs and commute into the city each day. Long Island City is just 1 stop from Manhattan and is becoming more and more popular with tourists. Some of those hotels will even shuttle you to the train station to make it easier for you.

The key thing to remember when planning a trip to New York City is to plan it out ahead of time. Your research and time spent planning it out will surely pay off so you get the most out of your hard earned money.